The Martial Arts Behind Hollywood’s Greatest Fights

April 29, 2016

How much better would “Shakespeare in Love” be if Gwyneth Paltrow had thrown a tornado kick or two into ole’ Billy’s jaw? Or how about a Muy Thai match in the second act of Titanic?

Alas, we must settle for the few gems a year Hollywood cranks out that feature heart-pounding martial art fight sequences. But how authentic are these martial arts, showcased by our favorite actors? We’ve all seen the behind-the-scenes footage where the sweaty actor claims to have spent hours on end training with an expert, but does all that training actually translate to film? The answer is surprisingly nuanced.

Most films that feature a lot of choreographed fight sequences frequently use a combination of many different martial art styles. Unsurprisingly, this is due to the fact that no one martial art looks that great on film. It takes a variety of styles to make the spectacular fight scenes that movie-goers love. Here’s an inside look at some of Hollywood’s most iconic uses of martial arts.

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    Beginners Krav Maga

    Developed for the Israeli armed forces, Krav Maga is a no frills, devastatingly effective system of self-defense. Designed to be practical and intuitive, it's perfect for practitioners of all shapes and sizes. Under the guidance of your expert instructor, you will practice proper fighting stances and powerful strikes, and defensive moves like blocks, headlocks, and choke-holds. As you train, you'll develop speed, coordination, incredible core strength, and the confidence to defend yourself against an opponent of any size.
    Beginners Krav Maga

    13347 Washington Blvd, Los Angeles

    • Learn fundamental Krav Maga moves and techniques, just like they are taught in Israel
    • Improve endurance, strength, speed, flexibility, and posture
    • Learn hand-to-hand combat and counter techniques against chokes, bear hugs, and take-downs
    • No experience necessary
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    Muay Thai

    This combat style also goes by the name of "the art of 8 limbs" Do I even need to say anything else? You'll be fighting like a freaking arachnid! This Muay Thai Class offers a full-body workout consisting of stand'up striking and even some clinching techniques. Along with increased stamina and flexibility, Muay Thai training will help improve your strength, balance, and coordination. You'll also develop the proper form and footwork technique to take down the biggest opponent (think Andre the Giant). Who would want to fight someone with 8 effective and dangerous limbs? Exactly.
    Muay Thai

    10654 Magnolia Blvd, Los Angeles

    • Gain confidence and impress your friends when you learn the art of Muay Thai
    • Learn and begin to master the techniques of Muay Thai
    • Enjoy a challenging workout that will get you in shape and make you feel great
    • Try different, fun exercises to tone your body and defend yourself
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    Box and Tone

    It's time for a workout that really packs a punch! In this hour-long class, you'll work under the instruction of professionally-trained black belts to give your body an intense and invigorating workout. You'll combine boxing, cardio, and strength training as you learn boxing and kicking combinations using professional-quality mitts, gloves, and bags. Get ready to work up a sweat, because you'll push yourself non-stop for an hour with this high-energy class. Get ready to be a total knockout!
    Box and Tone

    14396 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks

    • Experience a high-energy boxing-based workout with professional, black-belt instructors
    • Feel the burn of combining boxing, cardio, and strength-training in one workout
    • Use professional equipment, such as gloves and bags, as you learn killer punching and kicking combos
    • Give your workout an energy boost with this fun and engaging class
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    Muay Thai

    Do you find yourself always zoning out -- maybe even on the verge of falling asleep -- while you’re running on the treadmill? If you need to spice up your daily workout routine with something that will surely keep you awake and energized, give Muay Thai a try! Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, is Thailand’s national combat sport. Also a form of self-defense, it engages the entire body, focusing especially on a combination of the hands, feet, elbows, and knees as striking tools. A typical Muay Thai class involves training your footwork, movement, and balance, as well as your ability to throw and to clinch. Who needs a treadmill machine when you can transform your own body into a fighting machine?
    Muay Thai

    2210 Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles

    • Learn the fundamentals of Muay Thai, also known as Thai boxing -- the country’s national sport
    • Use a combination of your hands, feet, elbows, and knees as powerful striking tools
    • Improve your stamina and overall fitness with a strict regiment of footwork, movement, balance, and more
    • Practice developing hand-to-hand weapons
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    Boxing

    Give exercise the old “one-two” and get into boxing. In this class, you'll combine super effective self-defense skills with full-body conditioning. Your expert instructor will teach you the fundamental punches, dips, ducks, and footwork that make up quick and powerful boxing technique. As you learn to defend yourself, you'll be increasing your strength, toning every muscle in your body, and improving your endurance. After this class, you will truly be floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee. Maybe you might even get your own training montage too!
    Boxing

    714-716 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles

    • Discover the intense, exciting world of boxing
    • Learn fundamental punches, defense moves and necessary footwork
    • Increase your strength, speed, and endurance with fun workouts
    • Gain the tools to defend yourself against any opponent
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    Boxing

    Yo! Champ-in-the-Making! Lace up the gloves and step into the ring at Back to Basics Fitness, in this introductory Boxing Class. Both ladies and gents are welcome to participate. You'll practice techniques in punching, footwork, and dodging, while working the entire body for speed and agility. Every class offers something new, and future Golden Glove-winners of all athleticism and ability are welcome. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with the early stuff, you'll pop on a helmet and step into the ring for some live sparring! What are you waiting for? It's your time to shine
    Boxing

    2914 Foothill Blvd, La Crescenta

    • Learn the basics of boxing, from experienced professionals who are boxing experts
    • Get in shape while practicing the same boxing and fitness drills the professionals use
    • Strap on a helmet and hit the ring for some light contact sparring
    • Acquire important self-defense skills that will build self-confidence and might help you out in a pinch
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    Boxing

    You were late to work, you spilled coffee on your white shirt, and you lost the keys to your place. Really, all you want is a boxing session to vent your frustration. You’ve simply outgrown the old scream-into-your-pillow trick. Whatever the case may be, this boxing class at A4 Fitness has something in store for everyone! Fun, informative, and safe, boxing is a great way to get rid of your frustrations, build endurance, and learn how to protect yourself. Under the guidance of an experienced boxing coach, you will learn effective combinations of footwork, balance and head movement that will help you better understand defense and punch delivery. So not only are you getting a great, mind-clearing workout in, but you’re also training -- disciplining -- your body to move in technical, calculated ways.
    Boxing

    2210 Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles

    • Learn what boxing is all about under the guidance of experienced boxing coaches
    • Run through combinations of footwork, head movement, and punch delivery
    • Gain a better understanding of how to use the structure of your body to defend and to deliver hard-hitting punches
    • Loosen up and sweat out your frustrations during this hour session
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    Capoeira

    If you want to experience a dynamic and fun workout that not only whips you into shape fast, but also has practical application in the real world, then look no further! This class offers you step-by-step instruction in the Afro-Brazilian martial art of Capoeira, which actually doubles as a fighting system and an extremely useful self-defense system. Enjoy an exciting, challenging, and fun workout as you learn basic Capoeira movements such as kicks, jinga, and acrobatic sequences, all while improving your overall health, self-confidence, flexibility, and body control. This class is designed to be low impact and easy on the joints, but is still focused on maximizing calorie burn. The class will conclude with a training session where you'll get to demonstrate your new skills against other students, set to the tune of live Capoeira music!
    Capoeira

    7561 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles

    • Learn the basic moves of the Afro-Brazilian self-defense system, Capoeira
    • Build skills and techniques, and gain insight on effective kicks, jinga, and acrobatics
    • Improve upon your self-defense skills, flexibility, and body control
    • Experience the vast number of benefits practicing a martial art can offer you
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    Muay Thai

    Been hanging with friends over Mai Tais? Let’s change that spelling a little, have you try something that’s actually GOOD for you -- Muay Thai, a martial-art style that will get you in great shape and teach you important skills! With the help of an expert Watts instructor, you'll learn the basics of what’s known as the “Art of 8 Limbs”. You'll start slowly, but after a little bit of practice, you'll be able to work on your moves in real time with some live sparring. You'll soon be in the best shape of your life, and your self-esteem and confidence will be through the roof! And then if you want to follow up your Muay Thai with a celebratory Mai Tai, well, who are we to judge? You’ve earned it!
    Muay Thai

    4210 E Los Angeles Ave, Simi Valley

    • Learn the fundamentals of Muay Thai, a martial art style that will leave you in the best shape of your life
    • Increase your self-esteem, focus, and confidence by working hard to reach goals
    • Receive expert instruction tailored to your individual needs
    • Make new friends in a welcoming environment
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    Muay Thai

    Get ready for a unique twist on Muay Thai, developed through years of competition and teaching experience. In this one of a kind class, you will combine Western boxing footwork and punching with traditional Muay Thai kicks, knees, elbows, and grappling. Get your blood flowing with a warm up through jump rope exercises and footwork-focused shadow boxing. You'll then be partnered up and taught basic techniques and biomechanics in simulated combat situations. And in case that isn’t enough of a workout for you, you will end with strength and conditioning training. In a safe, supportive environment, you'll be well on your way to becoming the lean, mean, fighting machine you were born to be.
    Muay Thai

    5176 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood

    • Discover a unique combination of boxing footwork and traditional Muay Thai strikes
    • Warm up with cardio exercises and shadow boxing
    • Partner up for intense, controlled sparring matches
    • Gain incredible strength, speed, and endurance
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